John Saxon

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John Saxon
John Saxon 1958.jpg
Saxon in 1958
Carmine Orrico

(1935-08-05) August 5, 1935 (age 84)
Years active1954–2015
  • Mary Ann Saxon
    (m. 1967; div. 1979)
    Elizabeth Saxon
    (m. 1987; div. 1992)
    Gloria Martel (m. 2008)
ChildrenAntonio Saxon

John Saxon (born Carmine Orrico; August 5, 1935) is an American actor and martial artist who has worked on more than 200 projects during a span of 60 years. Saxon is known for his work in westerns and horror films, often playing police officers and detectives.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Saxon studied acting with Stella Adler before beginning his career as a contract player for Universal Pictures, appearing in such films as Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) and Portrait in Black (1961). In the 1970s and 1980s, he would establish himself as a character actor, frequently portraying law enforcement officials in horror films such as Black Christmas (1974), Dario Argento's Tenebrae (1982), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

In addition to his roles in horror films, Saxon co-starred with Bruce Lee in the martial arts film Enter the Dragon (1973), and has supporting roles in the westerns Death of a Gunfighter (1969) and Joe Kidd (1972), as well as the adventure thriller Raid on Entebbe (1977). In the 1990s, Saxon occasionally appeared in films, with small roles in Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) and From Dusk till Dawn (1996).

Early life[edit]

Saxon, an Italian American,[2] was born Carmine Orrico in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Anna (née Protettore) and Antonio Orrico, a dock worker.[3] He attended New Utrecht High School, graduating in 1953. He then studied acting with famous acting coach Stella Adler. He started making films in the mid-1950s, playing teenage roles. According to Robert Hofler's 2005 biography The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson, agent Willson saw Saxon's picture on the cover of a detective magazine and immediately contacted the boy's family in Brooklyn.[4] With parents' permission, the 17-year-old Orrico signed with Willson, and he was renamed John Saxon.[5] He signed with Universal Studios in April 1954 at $150 a week.[6] John Saxon is proficient in Judo and Shotokan Karate.[7]


Universal Pictures[edit]

Saxon (right) with Sal Mineo and Sue George a publicity still for Rock, Pretty Baby (1956)

Saxon spent 18 months at Universal before the studio first used him in a film.[8] His first significant role was a juvenile delinquent in Running Wild (1955), co-starring Mamie Van Doren.

He was then given a good role in The Unguarded Moment (1956), playing a youth who seemingly stalks Esther Williams. In February 1956 Universal exercised its option on Saxon and he was paid $225 a week.[6]

Teen idol[edit]

Saxon had the lead in a low budget teen film, Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) which became an unexpected hit and established Saxon as a teen idol. Universal executives were pleased, and Ross Hunter announced he would be in Teach Me How to Cry[9]. First Saxon quickly reprised his Rock, Pretty Baby role in a sequel, Summer Love (1958). By now he was getting 3,000 fan letters a week.[10]

He then made Teach Me How to Cry with Sandra Dee which was retitled The Restless Years (1958).

Universal put him in an "A film", This Happy Feeling (1958), directed by Blake Edwards, where Saxon romanced Debbie Reynolds in support of Curt Jurgens. MGM borrowed him to appear opposite Sandra Dee in The Reluctant Debutante (1958), for director Vincente Minnelli, which was widely seen. Saxon was billed third, beneath Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall.

He had a support role in a big budget Biblical drama about Simon Peter, The Big Fisherman (1959) for director Frank Borzage, starring Howard Keel. It was a box office disappointment.

Over at United Artists Saxon was the lead in Cry Tough (1959), a film about juvenile delinquents.

Saxon worked with another top director, John Huston, in the Western, The Unforgiven (1960), playing an Indian in support of Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn.

Back at Universal, he remained in a supporting role, but it was a good one: Portrait in Black (1960), reunited with Dee, with Lana Turner and Anthony Quinn.

He was essentially a juvenile delinquent cowboy in The Plunderers (1960), tormenting Jeff Chandler. He stayed in Westerns in Posse from Hell (1961) with Audie Murphy and guest stars on shows like General Electric Theater and The Dick Powell Theatre.[11]

"I want to do all sorts of character parts," he said in 1960.[12]

Saxon played a serial killer soldier War Hunt (1962), and had a small role in the comedy hit Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962).


Saxon traveled to Italy to make Agostino (1962).

In 1963 Saxon co-starred with Letícia Román in Mario Bava's Italian giallo film The Girl Who Knew Too Much.

He returned to Hollywood to appear in Otto Preminger's The Cardinal (1963) and an episode of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre then was back to Europe for The Cavern (1964).

The Ravagers (1965) was shot in the Philippines; Night Caller from Outer Space (1965) was a science fiction film shot in Britain.

In 1966, he starred in Curtis Harrington's science fiction/horror classic Queen of Blood with Basil Rathbone and Dennis Hopper, then appeared opposite Marlon Brando in The Appaloosa (1966), winning a Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor nomination for his portrayal of a Mexican bandit. Saxon recalls, "This was to me a terrific role and something I was ready for, but he [Brando] was despondent. He said he had lent a whole bunch of money to his father, and what he was saying to me was that his father ruined his life by losing all of his money. He was kind of bored in the picture."[5]

The Doomsday Flight (1966) was a made-for-TV movie. In an interview in 1966 he said "I never felt comfortable being a teenage dreamboat... I regard myself as a craftsman."[13]

He portrayed Marco Polo in episode 26 of The Time Tunnel ("Attack of the Barbarians"), originally airing March 10, 1967, and was a guest star on Bonanza in 1967 ("The Conquistadores"). In episode 19, season 5 of The Virginian ("The Modoc Kid") Saxon appeared in the title role alongside a young up and coming actor, appearing in one of his first speaking roles, Harrison Ford. And in 1969 he appeared in ("My Friend, My Enemy").

Saxon was in a sex comedy for Sam Katzman, For Singles Only (1968) and appeared in some Westerns, One Dollar Too Many (1968), Death of a Gunfighter (1969), "The Men From Shiloh" (rebranded name for The Virginian (1971), and Joe Kidd (1972) (again playing a Mexican, this time a revolutionary named Luis Chama). I Kiss the Hand (1973) was a thriller made in Italy.

He spent three years as Dr. Theodore Stuart on the series The Bold Ones: The New Doctors (1969–1972).

Enter the Dragon[edit]

Saxon in Petrocelli, 1975

He appeared in 1973's Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee's first starring role in a Hollywood feature. He was in action films: Mitchell (1974), The Swiss Conspiracy (1975), Strange Shadows in an Empty Room (1976), Napoli violenta (1976), Mark Strikes Again (1976), A Special Cop in Action (1976), Cross Shot (1976), The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist (1977).

In 1974 he appeared as police Lieutenant Fuller in the Canadian production of Black Christmas; from 1974–76, he appeared in The Six Million Dollar Man, first as Major Frederick Sloan and then as Nedlick. This role also extended into The Bionic Woman. The actor's likeness was later used for the Kenner action-figure doll called 'Maskatron' which was based on the series.

In 1976, Saxon portrayed a homicidal vampire-like strangler in the Season Two Starsky & Hutch episode, 'Vampire.' Raid on Entebbe (1977) was a prestige TV movie. Moonshine County Express was a big hit for Roger Corman's New World Pictures; Saxon made another for that company, The Bees (1978). He appeared in a Bollywood movie, Shalimar (1978) then it was back to exploitation: Fast Company (1979), The Glove (1979).

Saxon played Hunt Sears, head of a breakfast cereal conglomerate, opposite Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in the 1979, Oscar-nominated film The Electric Horseman.


He appeared in the 1982 TV movie Rooster, and appeared in the last week of the game show Whew! His extensive television credits include two years as Tony Cumson on Falcon Crest (1982, 1986–1988) as well as the recurring role of Rashid Ahmed on Dynasty (1982–1984).

He appeared twice, in different roles, in The A-Team in 1983 and 1985. He played the role of Captain Radl in the two-part Wonder Woman episode "The Feminine Mystique" in 1976.

Saxon has appeared in many Italian films, mainly in spaghetti western and police thriller genres. Titles from these genres include One Dollar Too Many (1968) and Napoli violenta (1976). He also was the second incarnation of Dylan Hunt from the Gene Roddenberry shows called Planet Earth and Strange New World.

Saxon at the 2014 Fan Expo Canada

He then appeared in Dario Argento's Tenebrae (1982) as the writer hero's shifty agent; in Mitchell (1975) as the murderous union lawyer and prostitute provider Walter Deaney; in Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) as Sador; in Cannibal Apocalypse (1980) where he played a Vietnam veteran tormented because his worthless pal bit him and years later, he is starting to get the urge to do the same; in Prisoners of the Lost Universe as an alternate-universe warlord, and in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) as the heroine's (Nancy Thompson's) father. He reprised his role in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) and Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) as he played himself in a dual role. He also made his directorial debut in 1987 with the horror film Zombie Death House, which starred Dennis Cole and Anthony Franciosa. He starred in Maximum Force (1992) as Captain Fuller and also appeared in From Dusk till Dawn (1996).

In recent years, he has been in a number of independent films and has appeared in several television series, including CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the Showtime series Masters of Horror.

He was a special guest on the Creation Entertainment - Weekend of Horrors 2010 on 21 May in Los Angeles.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
1954 It Should Happen to You Boy Watching Argument in Park Uncredited
1954 A Star Is Born Movie Premiere Usher Uncredited
1955 Running Wild Vince Pomeroy
1956 The Unguarded Moment Leonard Bennett
1956 Rock, Pretty Baby Jimmy Daley
1957 Summer Love Jimmy Daley
1958 This Happy Feeling Bill Tremaine
1958 The Reluctant Debutante David Parkson
1958 The Restless Years Will Henderson
1959 Cry Tough Miguel Antonio Enrico Francisco Estrada
1959 The Big Fisherman Prince Voldi
1960 The Unforgiven Johnny Portugal
1960 Portrait in Black Blake Richards
1960 The Plunderers Rondo
1961 Posse from Hell Seymour Kern
1962 War Hunt Pvt. Raymond Endore
1962 Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation Byron Grant
1962 Agostino Renzo
1963 The Girl Who Knew Too Much Dr. Marcello Bassi
1963 The Cardinal Benny Rampell
1964 The Cavern Pvt. Joe Cramer
1965 The Ravagers Capt. Kermit Dowling Also known as: In the Philippines: Only the Brave Know Hell
1965 The Night Caller Dr. Jack Costain
1966 Queen of Blood Allan Brenner
1966 The Appaloosa Chuy
1966 The Doomsday Flight George Ducette Television film
1967 Winchester '73 Dakin McAdam Television film
1968 Istanbul Express [de] Cheval Television film
1968 For Singles Only Bret Hendley
1968 One Dollar Too Many Clay Watson
1969 Death of a Gunfighter Lou Trinidad
1971 "The Men From Shiloh (rebranded name of The Virginian Sgt. Terence Mulcahy TV western
1971 Mr Kingstreet's War Jim Kingstreet
1972 Joe Kidd Luis Chama
1973 I Kiss the Hand Gaspare Ardizzone
1973 Enter the Dragon Roper
1974 Planet Earth Dylan Hunt
1974 Black Christmas Lt. Ken Fuller
1975 Metralleta 'Stein' Mariano Beltrán
1975 Mitchell Walter Deaney
1976 The Swiss Conspiracy Robert Hayes
1976 Strange Shadows in an Empty Room Sgt. Ned Matthews
1976 Violent Naples Francesco Capuano
1976 Mark Strikes Again Inspector Altman
1976 A Special Cop in Action Jean Albertelli
1976 Cross Shot Commissioner Jacovella
1977 Raid on Entebbe Gen. Benny Peled
1977 The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist DiMaggio
1977 Moonshine County Express J.B. Johnson
1977 Tre soldi e la donna di classe
1978 The Bees John Norman
1978 Shalimar Col. Columbus
1979 Fast Company Phil Adamson
1979 The Glove Sam Kellog
1979 The Electric Horseman Hunt Sears
1980 Beyond Evil Larry Andrews
1980 Cannibal Apocalypse Norman Hopper
1980 Battle Beyond the Stars Sador
1980 Running Scared Captain Munoz
1981 Blood Beach Captain Pearson
1982 Wrong Is Right Homer Hubbard
1982 Una di troppo Sergio Puccini the notary
1982 Scorpion with Two Tails Arthur Barnard
1982 Tenebrae Bullmer
1982 Desire Joe Hale
1983 Prisoners of the Lost Universe Kleel
1983 The Big Score Davis
1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street Lt. Donald Thompson
1985 Fever Pitch Sports editor
1986 Hands of Steel Francis Turner
1987 A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors Donald Thompson credited as Special Appearance
1987 House Made of Dawn Tosamah
1987 Death House Colonel Gordon Burgess
1988 The Last Samurai
1988 Nightmare Beach Strycher
1989 My Mom's a Werewolf Harry Thropen
1989 Criminal Act Herb Tamplin
1990 Aftershock Oliver Quinn
1990 The Final Alliance Ghost
1990 Crossing the Line Jack Kagan
1990 Blood Salvage Clifford Evans
1991 The Arrival Agent Mills
1992 Maximum Force Captain Fuller
1992 Hellmaster Professor Jones
1993 The Baby Doll Murders John Maglia
1993 No Escape No Return James Mitchell
1993 Jonathan of the Bears Fred Goodwin
1994 Beverly Hills Cop III Orrin Sanderson
1994 Killing Obsession Dr. Sachs
1994 Wes Craven's New Nightmare Himself/Donald Thompson
1994 Frame-Up II: The Cover-Up Charles Searage
1996 From Dusk till Dawn FBI Agent Stanley Chase
1997 The Killers Within Detective Lewis
1997 Lancelot: Guardian of Time Wolvencroft
1998 The Party Crashers Mr. Foster
1998 Joseph's Gift Jacob Keller
1999 Criminal Minds Antonio DiPaolo Jr.
2001 Final Payback Police Chief George Moreno
2001 Night Class Murphy
2002 Outta Time James Darabont
2003 The Road Home Michael Curtis
2006 The Craving Heart Richard Tom
2006 Trapped Ashes Leo Segment: "Stanley's Girlfriend"
2008 God's Ears Lee Robinson
2009 Old Dogs Paul
2009 War Wolves Tony Ford
2009 The Mercy Man Father McMurray
2010 Genghis Khan Chiledu
2015 The Extra Victor Vallient

Television (selected)[edit]

Year Title Role Notes Se




Cal Strom

Virgil Stanley

Season 11, Episode 14:

"The Avengers"

Season 12, Episode 8: "The Whispering Tree"

1967 The Time Tunnel Marco Polo Episode 26: "Attack of the Barbarians"
1967 The Virginian Del Stetler Season 5, Episode 19: "The Modoc Kid"
1967 Bonanza Steve Friday Season 8, Episode 19: "Black Friday""
1967 Bonanza Blas Season 9, Episode 3: "The Conquistadors"
1972 Kung Fu The bounty hunter Episode: "The King of the Mountain"
1973 The Streets of San Francisco Vincent Hagopian Episode: "A Collection of Eagles"
1973 Police Story Himself Episode: "Death on Credit"
1974 The Mary Tyler Moore Show Mike Tedesco Season 5, Episode 8: "Menage-a-Phyllis
1974 The Six Million Dollar Man Major Fred Sloan Season 1 Episode 4: "Day of the Robot
1975 Gunsmoke Gristy Calhoun Season 20, Episode 14 "The Squaw"
1976 Starsky & Hutch Rene Nadasy/vampire Season 2, Episode 7: "Vampire"
1976 Wonder Woman Captain Radl Season 1, Episode 5: "The Feminum Mystique Part 1"
1976 Wonder Woman Captain Radl Season 1, Episode 6: "The Feminum Mystique Part 2"
1976 The Rockford Files Dave Delaroux Season 2, Episode 16: "Portrait of Elizabeth"
1976 Once an Eagle (miniseries) Captain Townshend
1977 79 Park Avenue (miniseries) Harry Vito
1977 Quincy, M.E. Charles Desskasa Season 2, Episode 11 "Sullied Be Thy Name"
1977 The Fantastic Journey Terrant Season 1, Episode 5 “A Dream of Conquest”
1978 The Immigrants Alan Brocker
1979 Hawaii Five-O Harry Clive Season 11, Episode 16 "The Bark and the Bite"
1983 The A-Team Rev. Martin James Season 1, Episode 3 "Children of Jamestown"[15]
1984 Dynasty Rashid Ahmed Recurring character 1982-1984
1984 Murder, She Wrote Jerry Lydecker Episode: "Hooray for Homicide
1988 Murder, She Wrote Marco Gambini Episode: "A Very Good Year For Murder"
1994 Murder, She Wrote Uncle Bernardo Bonelli Episode: "Proof in the Pudding"


  1. ^ Ortega, Albert L. "Hollywood Show 2014". Getty Images.
  2. ^ Hopper, Hedda (1 September 1957). "John Saxon's The Brooklyn Italian Type". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
  3. ^ "John Saxon Biography (1935-)". Retrieved 2010-12-31.
  4. ^ Hofler, Robert (2005). The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 978-0786716074.
  5. ^ a b King, Susan (October 21, 2012). "John Saxon, Hollywood cool guy, remembers his 'Dragon' days". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-01-23.
  6. ^ a b "Contracts of Two Young Film Players Approved: Mutual Congratulations Mark Meeting of Rena Clark and John Saxon in Court". Los Angeles Times. 16 February 1956. p. A1.
  7. ^ Jacques, Steve (1 August 1973). "John Saxon's Greatest Challenge". Black Belt: 14–18. Retrieved 5 March 2019 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Hopper, Hedda (1 Sep 1957). "Saxon Draws Diverse Roles: Diverse Characters Played by John Saxon". Los Angeles Times. p. D1.
  9. ^ Louella Parsons: Bobo Rockefeller Invests in a Movie The Washington Post and Times Herald 22 Dec 1956: B13.
  10. ^ Beck, Joan (4 July 1960). "John Saxon, Handsome, Moody Teen-Age Idol". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. A1.
  11. ^ Is He the One Who'll Become Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times 11 Dec 1960: B6.
  12. ^ John Saxon, Handsome, Moody Teen-Age Idol Beck, Joan. Chicago Daily Tribune 4 July 1960: a1.
  13. ^ Alpert, Don (27 Mar 1966). "John Saxon—Teen Dreamboat on Calmer Seas". Los Angeles Times. p. B4.
  14. ^ Barton, Steve (22 April 2010). "Creation Weekend of Horrors - Get Your Tickets Before They're All Gone!". DreadCentral. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Children of Jamestown". IMDb. The A Team. Retrieved 5 March 2019.

External links[edit]